(function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + 'stats.g.doubleclick.net/dc.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Schwartz, wife Suzie, make lasting impression

Retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, 1973 Academy graduate, walks through an aisle of cadets and Academy staff as he speaks to them about values and ethics at the 2014 National Character and Leadership Symposium Feb. 28.

Retired Gen. Norton Schwartz, 1973 Academy graduate, walks through an aisle of cadets and Academy staff as he speaks to them about values and ethics at the 2014 National Character and Leadership Symposium Feb. 28.

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Air Force Academy recently hosted the 21st annual National Character and Leadership Symposium.

The symposium themed: "Character Overcoming Conflict: Individual Stories, Global Impact," featured a variety of speakers from sports stars to military heroes to some cadets who currently call the Academy home.

The purpose of the event was to allow participants the opportunity to hear from more than 20 speakers and panel discussions focused on enhancing the understanding of the importance and challenges of sound moral character and leadership. Participants included cadets, Academy faculty and students from colleges around the country.

I was able to attend a couple of the sessions but hands down, the highlight of the event for me was definitely listening to retired general Norton Schwartz, 19th Air Force chief of staff, and his wife Suzie, speak.

Schwartz, a '73 Academy graduate, urged all in attendance to lead in all aspects of our lives during his speech.

"This is a crucial time for our nation and especially for those who have chosen to serve in uniform," he said. "We are and will face unprecedented challenges from enemies and competitors who defy simple identification or quantification."

Because of these times it is most important that we have a responsibility to uphold.

"You must dedicate yourself to doing what is necessary, to go wherever and whenever, to apply your talents your voice and your vision," Schwartz said. "I'm not talking about some far off date, distant in the future, no doubt when you will be field grade or flag officers. I'm talking about right now. You are the future of the armed forces of the United States of America. You have chosen to lead. What comes with that is responsibility."

After speaking, Schwartz's wife Suzie, spoke to the crowd about the perspective from the military spouse.

By far the best part of the briefing happened during the question and answer session. That was when we really got to understand who they both were.

Questions varied from how relevant the Academy is with regards to producing leaders of honor and character, to how Airman work and contribute in unconventional ways. We even got to hear about their proposal story.


Though NCLS has wrapped for this year, the message of continued self-improvement with regards to character and leadership should continue. To hear the perspective of someone who has been a part of the Air Force for close to 40 years is a privilege that I hope all get to enjoy one day.